Technically Speaking: Links of the Week – October 8

Each week we scour the internet to find the best stories on technology, digital living and news of note. This week features advice for iOS 7 camera users, an app that can start your microwave and how to watch YouTube videos with no Internet. All that and more in this edition of Mozy’s Technically Speaking.

New App Allows Users to Control Household Items from Smartphones

Revolv

You’re out to dinner when you realize you forgot to turn off the television. You locked your keys in the house and can’t get in. The new app from Revolv for iOS allows users to sync up their home appliances and control them with their mobile devices, according to Adam Popescu for Mashable. The company is currently pre-selling its Smart Home Solution, which allows users to control entertainment systems, wireless lighting, automated locks, and thermostat from an iPhone or iPad. For $299, the system includes a WiFi hub that can be plugged in to an outlet in the home and access to Revolv’s cloud service. The hub automatically connects to the user’s WiFi and manually connects to wireless electronics in the home.

5 Tips for Making the Most of iOS 7′s New Camera App

The tech world has been filled with buzz about Apple’s new iOS 7 software. With so many changes and features, it’s difficult for even the biggest of tech nerds to keep up with everything that’s going on. However, one of the biggest (and in some people’s opinions, best) upgrades is to the Camera app. Jason Cipriani of CNET details 5 important tips for getting adjusted to the new Camera.

No Internet? No Problem. Watch YouTube Videos Offline

New YouTube App

Users will soon be able to watch YouTube videos even when they aren’t connected to the Internet, according to a Mashable article. YouTube recently announced that it will unveil a new feature that will let users “add videos” to their mobile device to watch offline. The app is set for a November release date.

 

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How Do You Shift to People-Centric Computing? Two Words: Centralize and Hybrid, Says ESG

“It’s all about the people,” argued Peter Drucker, the most influential management thinker of the past century (see WSJ article).

It’s a philosophy that we hold dear in our hearts at Mozy – and one the analysts at ESG appear to champion, as well. The latest report from the storage experts highlights the shift in emphasis needed to deliver comprehensive data protection for the modern workforce. And it really boils down to the people.

As the world of backup evolves, it’s becoming less about forcing people to use specific devices that you force them to back up to a specific destination – and more about protecting the data belonging to those people and intelligently selecting a backup destination that suits it best.

“A hybrid architecture means that an organization does not need to make ‘either-or’ data protection decisions, but can instead use centralized and distributed backup approaches wherever each makes sense,” said Jason Buffington, Senior Data Protection Analyst, Enterprise Strategy Group.

“For example, centralized data protection could provide the foundation for compliance, while distributed backup could add agility in dealing with remote data,” said Buffington. “The key to success is choosing the right data protection tools for each recovery goal — and, rather than the IT department trying to own every single piece of the infrastructure, making sure that they own the management for all of the organizations’ data backup, regardless of method.”

It’s well known that EMC has a comprehensive portfolio of backup services that offers on-premise, private cloud, public cloud and hybrid solutions. The new ESG-Mozy white paper helps big companies better understand those different tools. It offers advice on building a hybrid, people-centric approach that meets all their needs.

And this kind of approach will meet their needs so long as the business makes sure that the ownership and control of backup management holds fast across the entire enterprise. Corporate office employees, remote office employees and workers on the go all have different data backup and access requirements and need to be treated uniquely.

Putting people at the heart of the backup strategy is core for Mozy. We talked about this in July when we made big changes to the foundation on which the Mozy service is built. And we’ll continue to talk about it as we bring more features to market based on our new infrastructure.

The ESG White Paper’s hotlist of “must haves” for a successful hybrid backup architecture includes the following characteristics:

- Data protection and access and the ability to recover that data are all provided
- It’s manageable by the IT organization
- Remote and branch-office employees are equally supported
- Security is as strong for the cloud piece as for the on-premise piece
- Productivity is enhanced through the hybrid approach.

You can find out more about implementing a hybrid backup solution by reading the new ESG White Paper, and the recently released ESG Lab Validation Report: MozyEnterprise: Secure, Efficient Cloud-based Backup.

3 Critical Pieces of Advice for Business Owners from Mixergy.com’s Founder, Andrew Warner

Mixergy - Advice for EntreprenuersFor Mixergy.com, Andrew Warner has conducted more than 900 interviews with business experts, founders, and executives. He has also worked with successful professionals to craft over 100 different courses that teach members proven methods for growing a business.

A talented interviewer, Warner extracts experiences and wisdom from interviewees who explain step-by-step how they grew their business and overcame obstacles, and what viewers can learn from those experiences.

Mozy once helped Warner recover his files when his Macbook Pro decided to retire itself, now Warner is returning the favor by sharing the three ways entrepreneurs and small business owners can build better businesses:

1. Become an interviewer

Warner’s interview with Heidi Roizen is the first thing he mentions. Roizen is a world-class example of a someone who knows how to network. And she attributes much of her success to her ability to build relationships.

At her first job, Roizen took it upon herself to edit the company newsletter.

Why?

Because it gave her access to the CEO, allowing her to build that relationship and consequently meet other important and influential people.

Warner says, “If you’re an interviewer, you can get in more doors than if you send a note saying, ‘I’d like to do a business deal with you.’ People sit down for interviews, and then naturally — it happens to me all the time — they will want to do business with you.”

As an interviewer, Warner built a relationship with Roizen. He has also established strong connections — even friendships — with the 900 other entrepreneurs, including me, who have sat down with him for an hour long conversation to share our experiences, expertise and mistakes with viewers.

You don’t have to edit a company newsletter like Roizen did, or conduct in-depth video interviews as Warner does. You can interview incredible people even as the author of a personal blog.

You will be surprised how many people will open up to you, and how those new connections will help you succeed.

2. Diffuse the “counter mind” and empower the “true mind”

Warner, like everyone, battles self-doubt.

“Anything that we do, that’s worthwhile. There’s a part of us that makes us doubt ourselves. So I might come here to do an interview with you, and in my head I’m thinking, What if I don’t have anything as interesting to say as Gary Vaynerchuk? What if I’m having an off day? What if I say something really stupid?

With so much emotional stress and hesitancy, how could anyone accomplish anything meaningful?

“The same thing happens when you read a book about sales. They’ll teach you exactly what to say. They’ll give you the scripts. They’ll show you the process, and then, you’re supposed to pick up the phone and you won’t even do it.”

Warner calls this paralyzing mentality the counter mind. Conversely, there is the true mind, which requires we give it more head space so we can be ourselves.

“If you can diffuse [the counter mind] and bring out the true mind, then you can walk into a conversation and people can pick up on the fact that you’re comfortable. You can learn how to do something and actually go and do it because you’re excited about the rewards of it.”

3. Systematize workloads

Small businesses often struggle to grow. Sometimes, that is because a business is limited by what its owners are capable of.

“We founders tend to do everything. It’s our companies and we’re really good at doing everything and so we end up doing it all. And then we get overwhelmed, and we hire someone and we say, ‘You, do this. Solve this problem for me.’ And they can’t do it right, and so we take it back on our shoulders.”

In the early stages of Mixergy, Warner believed he couldn’t possibly delegate the tasks of pre-interviewing entrepreneurs, editing the videos and managing the business’ finances. So he assumed those responsibilities, overwhelming himself, only to realize that it was he who limited the firm’s potential.

Warner decided to finally hire a professional video editor, but the relationship didn’t work out. Warner confirmed his suspicion that he was the only one capable of running and supporting his company, and so he video edited once again.

Yet, it wasn’t that Warner was the only qualified person to do the job.

“The mistake I made was: I didn’t explain to whomever I was hiring how to do the job right. I didn’t systematize my job so that anyone else can do it.”

Warner, remembering his interview with Derek Sivers, concluded owners should: “[observe] how you do something, tell everyone else how you do it, and then let them do it that way.” He created Mixergy’s “manual,” a step-by-step guide for how to do the different jobs.

And he has been successful in growing the company.

“I gave [the manual] to our [video] editor, and now the editor is better than I am because in addition to doing what I do, he’s improved the job. But at least he started by editing the way I do it.”

Warner no longer has to be Mixergy’s sole work hero. The company has grown to nine people. With eight other capable team members, maintaining and updating the “manual” is more important than ever.

“Here, if someone can’t make it, if someone wants to take a vacation, the manual is there. The next person can pick up their job and do it.”

 

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‘Tile’ App Tracks the Stuff You’re Most Prone to Losing (And More)

Welcome to Mozy’s App Profile, where we introduce new programs seeking to improve the way we live and socialize. This week, Mozy takes a look at Tile, an app that aims to make sure you never lose anything ever again.

For many people, finding misplaced keys and wallets consumes far too much time in one’s day. In addition to it being an annoyance, losing integral personal possessions can also be extremely stressful.

“The problem of losing things has been around forever, and we felt like many people have tried to solve this without ever really being that successful,” said Nick Evans, founder and CEO of Tile. “When Bluetooth Low Energy support was released on iOS devices, we started thinking about how we could properly solve the problem [with this technology]. We invented Tile to make people’s lives easier.”

Users purchase small plastic tags — “tiles” — and attach them to anything they anticipate needing to find, whether it’s keys, wallets, remotes, or anything else. Each Tile pairs up with the accompanying iOS app, allowing users to view the location of each of his/her items on a map. Using the Tile app, one can identify the location of each misplaced item when it is within Bluetooth range (between 50-150 feet) and the last place your item was connected to the app.

For instance, if a user forgets his/her wallet at a cafe, the user can set an alarm sound on the Tile—making the lost item easy to find (if it is within Bluetooth range).

But Tile isn’t just for finding misplaced items inside your house or at a favorite coffee spot.

“One of the reasons why we used Bluetooth Low Energy for Tile, is that it allows for this sense of a Tile community,” said Evans. “The technology is able to leverage the Bluetooth connectivity of everyone in the Tile community to help you find lost items.”

If a user marks an item as “lost” on the app, other Tile users will receive an alert if your lost item is in their direct vicinity. So if someone were to steal your bike, for instance, the Tile community might be able to help you retrieve it better than the usual “missing” poster.

This sense of community also extends into how Tile was able to get up and running. Evans was able to raise $2.68 million—from almost 50,000 backers—through a crowd-funding campaign.

Some key Tile features include:

  • Never need to change or recharge a battery
  • Lasts for one year but the company will provide a new, free Tile (when you send in the old one)
  • Users can privately share Tiles with friends and family as well as find your Tiles with a friends phone by signing into your Tile account on their phone

Tile is looking to debut its app in either Winter 2013 or early 2014. Each Tile retails for $18.95 (with discounts depending on how many tiles one purchases).

You can learn more about the Tile app and pre-order tiles on its website.

 

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SMBs and the Online Workforce: Long-Term Relationships are the New ‘Gig’

Freelance Opportunities Are GrowingThere might have been a time when hiring freelancer online meant short-term contracts and cost savings for companies, but new research shows that employers are thinking differently about what web-sourced workers mean to a project.

Business owners are hiring at higher salaries and for longer-term arrangements, according to a new report by Elance. The study shows that 50% of the employers it polled are now bringing on online workers to handle multiple projects, not just one. And pay over the past year has increased by 69% year-over-year.

“I’m still re-hiring freelancers from just about every project I’ve done,” said Bill Calhoun of BillCalhoun.com. “Once you get your feet wet and establish a trusted relationship, it’s easy to hire again and again.”

Let’s look further into the numbers, and see what else the Elance study shows about owners such as Calhoun.

One of the trends in online hiring is that business owners are using web-based searches and platforms to find specialists in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Elance’s survey showed the following:

  • Demand for data scientists and statisticians is up 200%.
  • The demand for mobile-app developers increased 49% with continued growth in demand for iOS, Android and HTML5 skills. Demand for software application developers was up 62%.
  • The demand for networking and security experts saw remarkable growth with an over 300% increase in hiring.
  • The rise of 3D printing is pushing demand for computer-aided design experts in the U.S. The number of 3D-printing related jobs was up over 200% while the overall demand for U.S. based CAD talent grew nearly 70%.

“The ability to hire the best available person online and on-demand is becoming an essential strategy for agile businesses of all sizes,” said Fabio Rosati, chief executive officer of Elance.

If the numbers in the report bear a message, then, it’s that owners’ staffing strategies are more fully embracing the online workforce. And that leads to stories like those of freelancer Dave Russell.

“In early 2012 I was given a life-changing opportunity to work with a brilliant company,” Russell said. “It was initially just a 30-hour contract, but we got along so well that we continued working together—I was even invited out to Mountain View, California to meet everyone in-person . . . I’ve not only improved my skills, but I’ve also had the pleasure of meeting and working with incredible people.”

The concept of hiring-up via the Internet has become an everyday practice, and pay and contracts are enjoying the parity that comes with increasingly proven success.

 

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Technically Speaking: Links of the Week – September 30

Each week we scour the internet to find the best stories on technology, digital living and news of note. This week features big changes for the iPhone, bomb-detecting lasers, and a new logo for Yahoo. All that and more in this edition of Mozy’s Technically Speaking.

Fingerprint Sign On One Major Change for iPhone

iPhone Touch ID

Apple continues to come up with more creative tech ideas for every new iPhone–and it appears the 5s has some extremely interesting advancements on the horizon. According to Alistair Barr of USA Today, the new iPhone will be able to read users’ fingerprints for authentication or to make purchases.

The fingerprint technology will be near the home button at the bottom of the screen. After the phone verifies the user’s identity the rest of the home screen will appear.

Google+’s Newest Feature is Embedded Posts

Google+ posts can now be embedded on other sites. Users who want to showcase a Google+ post on a blog or news story can simply click a new “Embed post” tab on the drop down menu in the upper righthand corner, reports Kurt Wagner of Mashable. A code will appear and the user simple copies and pastes it onto the site of their choice.

The best part? The post will remain fully interactive, meaning readers will be able to comment, offer a +1, and follow the author right from the embedded page.

Yahoo Gets a New Logo

Yahoo is hoping to get people’s attention with a clean, thin new logo that features a sans-serif typeface created by the company, says Heather Kelly of CNN. The new look features a darker purple and uppercase letters. Of course the well-known exclamation point at the end also remains (and it even moves around in some versions).

Experts say the new logo is only the beginning of some changes for Yahoo. This is the first change since 2009, and even then the alterations weren’t too different from the original one designed in 1995.

Lasers May be Used to Search Luggage at Airports

TG-02-3810

In the near future airline travelers might be going through a check-in line where lasers scan their luggage. According to Tim Hornyak of CNET, researchers say laser-equipped airport security checkpoints could be used to pinpoint trace amounts of explosives.

The lasers would probably be used in a conveyer-belt type system. The low-energy laser, which was developed by researchers at Michigan State University, uses a single beam fired in two pulses. The first pulse can find chemical frequencies found in explosives, and the second searches for discrepancies that could indicate a bomb.

 

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What’s it like inside the highly selective, invite-only Young Entrepreneur Council?

Young Entreprenuer Council LogoThe exclusive founders-only club is not shy about naming names.

A quick scroll through its member directory shows that Joe Fernandez (Klout), Jennifer Fleiss (Rent the Runway), Adam Goldstein (Hipmunk), Jake Nickell (Threadless), Neil Patel (KISSmetrics), Shane Snow (Contently), and Slava Rubin (Indiegogo) are all part of the family.

To date, the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) has received more than 14,000 applications to join the group. Yet fewer than a thousand people can proudly carry the YEC member label. [Full disclosure: I joined the YEC, as the co-founder of Blank Label, more than two years ago.]

It was never about recruiting big names or keeping numbers artificially low for vanity’s sake though.

Scott Gerber, Founder of the YEC, envisioned an organization, created by entrepreneurs for entrepreneurs, that provided founders with the resources and tools they needed to keep growing. And that meant only accepting more candidates when the YEC staff was capable of providing more members with a wide variety of services such as virtual and in-person networking, online forums, VIP access to events, PR opportunities, exclusive discounts on business products and services, and an outlet to “give back” as a #StartupLab mentor.

The YEC in action

Much of the value from organizations such as the YEC comes from networking. If you’re looking to expand your network, someone will put you in touch with relevant contacts. For example, I met Matt Wilson, co-founder of Under30Media, through YEC in New York and got access to the launch party for Under30Experiences, a new kind of travel company. If you have specific problems, the group can direct you to someone who has been-there-and-done-that and may even have a foolproof “how-to” manual for resolving the issue.

YEC also provides its members access. The organization has brought members into highly exclusive events including one at the White House. The YEC also hosts private lunches and dinners with angel investors, venture capitalists and government officials.

It all comes from the comfort and support intrinsic in knowing you are not alone. Gerber says, “you don’t have to go search for yourself, and not really know where to start. You can rely on us not just to find who would be right for you, but also make warm introductions on your behalf. So ultimately we turn you into a superconnector without having to put all of the time and effort, and frankly, trust for every person that you’re meeting because we as the intermediary have done all of the work for you by vetting the community.”

Increasing value to members

Gerber discloses that the YEC is preparing to offer more back office services. He says that the group is about to launch national healthcare, with bookkeeping and accounting will soon be available too.

“Our goal is to also help our members to save money [and] to have the most efficient services possible to support their businesses.”

If time and money are the two most limited resources founders have, the YEC looks to help save its members both.

Although the YEC does not publicly state how much annual member dues are, Gerber is confident the fees are fair, given the services the YEC offers. In my experience, I’d agree. Most small business owners could easily afford the cost, and they would be able to justify it because of the value they get in return.

“At the end of the day, we are building a brand for the long run,” says Gerber. “With one core goal always remaining constant, and that is to help entrepreneurs worldwide and empower them in a variety of different ways.”

Alternative organizations

I love the YEC, but I am biased.

There are several other organizations business people can join that offer similar value. These include Sandbox, Young Presidents’ Organization, Entrepreneurs’ Organization, and Founders Card. Each has its own advantages, but I can’t speak to personal experience.

The point is: Whether you’re a founder, executive or manager, you should know that you don’t have to run your business alone. There’s a community somewhere with entrepreneurs who may happily extend a helping hand.

 

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Make email social with smail.fm

When Google recently rolled out new updates for Gmail, users were very vocal.

Some hated them. Some love them. Some decided to poke fun.

Of course, there was a time when email wasn’t so controversial. When it was introduced, email revolutionized how we interact. Now it doesn’t impress us with the speed of communication. Now it’s a source of stress.

The Berlin-based developer AppGestalt is hoping to make email social (again) with its smail.fm project. AppGestalt describes smail.fm as “a fun and easy way to talk to your friends with all the advantages of email like forwarding and threading.” While the project is still in pre-beta, the smail.fm homepage prominently features a screenshot of what future users might expect.

Snail.Fm

With the smail.fm client, you can compose a message, search your archives, and read messages that are organized by contact and aggregated in a clean, IM-like form. Correspondence with a certain individual is presented in a thread that displays all the messages you’ve received and sent, with the most recent messages appearing above the fold. The thread also identifies who said what and when the message was sent.

The beauty of this is that emails from an individual you care about no longer get lost in the mess that is your inbox, because you can say goodbye to easily misplaced single messages. Every message your best friend Jacob ever sent you, and every reply you sent, will be right there when you open up your correspondence with him.

smail.fm’s email threads will be particularly useful to busy professionals who won’t have to cross their fingers hoping their current email solution’s search function will, without fail, pull up the emails they are desperately looking for.

Email users should be excited for projects like smail.fm that propose a new method of communication that organizes messages around the people in your network.

Sign up for early beta access with smail.fm at its website.

 

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Revisualizing the Petabyte

We’re big fans of infographics here at Mozy (evidence: mozy.com/blog/infographics and mozy.com/infographics). In 2009 we produced an infographic titled “How Much is a Petabyte?“. This post has been extremely popular, and accounts for about 15% of all traffic to the Mozy blog. It has bounced around between the 2nd and 4th position on the first page of Google search results for “petabyte”.

We’ve produced an update to that original graphic. This new infographic is interactive, meaning it changes as you scroll down. There are also places where you can change the data shown by using sliders. This is the first one we’ve done, and we’re pretty excited about it. We hope you like it as well. We’ve got more planned! View the infographic in it’s entirety here.

Revisualizing the Petabyte

 

Let us know what you think in the comments below!

Unlock the potential of incentives with Kiip

Kiip RewardsPeople love free stuff. Giveaways, samples, kitschy mugs and t-shirts, you name it.

But free is easily abused and quickly forgotten.

When customers get something for free, they often fail to appreciate the value they are getting. So, how can businesses get more for their marketing dollars?

Make customers ‘earn it.’

Kiip allows mobile app developers and brands to reward users for accomplishments they make. The company’s tagline, “every achievement deserves a reward,” underscores its approach.

“For us, it’s all about the timing. Kiip allows your brand to reach users during achievements — these moments of elation, either with real, tangible rewards or gifts of virtual currency.”

What’s better than completing level 25 after two hours of frustration? Getting a nice reward for doing so.

Users no longer take your offers for granted and feel more brand loyalty because they earned it. Big brands such as McDonald’s, Amazon, Pepsi, 7-Eleven, and Sony Music use the platform to offer promotions.

And it’s not just for brands and games. Kiip’s rewards platform has been used by the productivity app Any.Do and for the fitness app SoFit as well as others.

Demonstrating impact on mobile marketing

Kiip is designed to support marketers’ efforts in creating an emotional connection with brands and increase customer engagement. The company claims in a press release that businesses joining the network have initial engagement rates of 15 percent, compared to the industry average 0.4 percent click-through rate.

While the company is still in its infancy, it has already garnered its share of plaudits. Business Insider has gone as far as saying “[Kiip's CEO] may have cracked the future of mobile advertising.”

Learn more about Kiip for businesses here.

 

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